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THE LIFE AND WORKS

OF

CHARLES LAMB




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THE WORKS


OF


CHARLES LAMB


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THE LETTERS OF


CHARLES LAMB


NEWLY ARRANGED WITH ADDITIONS


VOLUME II.


EDITED WITH INTRODUCTION AND NOTES BY


ALFRED AINGER



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EDITION BE LUXE

One thousand copies of this
edition have been printed for
sale in america, of which this is

Mo.



CONTENTS

CHAPTER IV. [1817—1823]

LETTERS TO THE WORDSWORTHS, BERNARD BARTON,
AND OTHERS

LETTER DATE taqi

CLXXXIII. TO WILLIAM AYETON, ESQ. May 17, 1817 3

CLXXXTV. TO MR. BARRON FIELD Aug. SI, 1817 6

CLXXXV. MARY LAMB TO MISS WORDS-
WORTH Nov. 21, 1817 9

CLXXXVI. TO MISS WORDSWORTH Nov. 21, 1817 12

CLXXXVII. TO J. PAYNE COLLIER Dec. 10, 1817 13

CLXXXVIII. TO BENJAMIN ROBERT HAYDON Dec. 1817 14

CLXXXIX. TO MRS. WORDSWORTH Feb. 18, 1818 14

CXC. TO MESSRS. OLLIER June 18, 1818 20

CXCI. TO ROBERT SOUTHEY Oct. 26, 1818 22

CXCII. TO SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE Dec. 24, 1818 9,3

CXCIII. TO JOHN CHAMBERS [1818] 24

CXCIV. TO WILLIAM WORDSWORTH May 1819 28

CXCV. TO THOMAS MANNING May 28, 1819 31

CXCVI. TO WILLIAM WORDSWORTH June 7, 1819 34

CXCVII. TO JOSEPH COTTLE Nov. 5, 1819 31

CXCVIII. TO THE SAME [Nov. or Dec] 1819 38

V



LETTERS OF CHARLES LAMB

LETTER DATE pa»e

CXCIX. TO JOSEPH COTTLE [Close of year] 1819 39

CC. TO SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE Nov. 1819 41

CCI. TO MISS WORDSWORTH Nov. 25, 1819 41

CCII. TO SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE Jan. 10, 1820 45

CCIII. TO MISS WORDSWORTH May 25, 1820 46

CCIV. TO THOMAS ALLSOP Mar. SO, 1821 47

CCV. TO SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE May 1, 1821 48

CCVI. TO MR. GILLMAN May 2, '21 48

CCVII. TO JOHN PAYNE COLLIER May 16, 1821 49

CCVIII. TO J. TAYLOR July SO, 1821 50

CCIX. TO C. COWDEN CLARKE [1821] 52

CCX. TO SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE Mar. 9, 1822 54

CCXI. TO WILLIAM WORDSWORTH Mar. 20, 1822 56

CCXII. TO WILLIAM GODWIN April IS, 1822 5Q

CCXIII. TO THE SAME May 16, 1822 60

CCXIV. TO JOHN CLARE Aug. 31, 1822 60

CCXV. TO BERNARD BARTON Sept. 11, 1822 62

CCXVI. TO MRS. KENNEY Sept. 11, 1822 64

CCXVII. TO MR. BARRON FIELD Sept. 22, 1822 60

CCXVIII. TO BERNARD BARTON Oct. 9, 1822 67

CCXIX. TO B. R. HAYDON Oct. 19, 1822 69

CCXX. TO THE SAME [Oct. 29, 1822] 70

vi



CONTENTS



LETTER

CCXXI. TO JOHN HOWARD PAYNE

CCXXII. TO THE SAME

CCXXIII. TO J. TAYLOE

CCXXIV. TO MR. WALTER WILSON

CCXXV. TO BERNARD BARTON

CCXXVI. TO MISS WORDSWORTH

CCXXVII. TO DIBDIN, ESQ..

CCXXVIII. TO MR. AND MRS. BRUTON

CCXXIX. TO BERNARD BARTON

CCXXX. TO J. HOWARD PAYNE

CCXXXI. TO BERNARD BARTON

CCXXXII. TO J. HOWARD PAYNE

CCXXXIII. TO WALTER WILSON

CCXXXIV. TO BERNARD BARTON

CCXXXV. TO THE SAME

CCXXXVI. TO J. HOWARD PAYNE

CCXXXVII. TO THE SAME

CCXXXVIII. TO B. W. PROCTER

CCXXXIX. TO MISS HUTCHINSON

CCXL. TO BERNARD BARTON

CCXLI. TO J. B. DIBDIN

CCXLII. TO WILLIAM HONE



DATE

Nov. 1822



PAGE

70



72
74
76
78



84
86
88
89
91



Nov. 13, '22
Dec. 7, 1822
Dec. 16, 1822
Dec. 23, 1822
Christmas 1822 80

1822 82
Jan. 6, 182$
Jan. 9, 1823
Jan. 23, '23
Feb. 17, 1823
Feb. 1823
Feb. 24, 1823 93
Mar. 5, 1823 Q5
Mar. 11, 1823 97

1823 100
1823 102
April 13, 1823 103
April 25, 1823 104
MayS, 1823 107
May 6, 1823 1 08
May 19, "23 109

vii



LETTERS OF CHARLES LAMB



LETTER
CCXLIII. TO CHARLES LLOYD

CCXLIV. TO BERNARD BARTON

CCXLV. TO THOMAS ALLSOP

CCXLVI. TO BERNARD BARTON

CCXLVII. TO THOMAS HOOD

CCXLVIII. TO THOMAS ALLSOP

CCXLIX. TO BERNARD BARTON

CCL. TO THOMAS ALLSOP

CCLI. TO REV. H. F. CARY

CCLII. TO J. B. DIBDLN

CCLIII. TO ROBERT SOUTHEY

CCLIV. TO BERNARD BARTON

CCLV. TO MRS. HAZLITT

CCLVI. TO MR. AINSWORTH

CCLVII. TO THE SAME



CHAPTER V. [1824—1827]

LETTERS TO BERNARD BARTON AND OTHERS

LETTER DATE

CCLVIII. TO BERNARD BARTON Jan. 9, 1824 135

CCLIX. TO THE SAME Jan. 23, 1824 137

CCLX. TO CHARLES OLLIER [Jan. 27, 1824] 140

viii



DATE


PAGE


1823


110


July 10, 1823


111


Aug. 9, 1828


113


Sept. 2, 1823


113


[Late in 1823]


115


Sept. 10, 1823


117


Sept. 17, 1828


118


1823


120


Oct. 14, 1828


121


Oct. 28, 1823


121


Nov. 21, 1823


122


Nov. 22, 1823


124


[Nov. 1823]


126


Dec. 9, 1823


128


Dec. 29, 1823


130



CONTENTS



rTER


DATE


pxar


CCLXI. TO BERNARD BARTON


Feb. 25, 1824


140



CCLXII. TO THE SAME Mar. 24, 1824 142

CCLXIII. TO THE SAME April 1824 144

CCLXTV. TO THE SAME May 15, 1824 146

CCLXV. TO THE SAME July 7, 1824 1 49

CCLXVI. TO JOHN B. DIBDIN July 28, 1824 \ 50

CCLXVII. TO THE REV. H. F. CARY Aug. 19, 1824 151

CCLXVUI. TO BERNARD BARTON Aug. 1824 151

CCLXIX. TO THE SAME Sept. 30, 1824 153

CCLXX. TO MRS. COLLIER Nov. 2, 1824 1 56

CCLXXI. TO B. W. PROCTER Nov. 11, '24 157

CCLXXII. TO MISS HUTCHINSON Nov. 11, 1824 158

CCLXXIII. TO BERNARD BARTON Dec. 1, 1824 l6l

CCLXXIV. TO SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE 1824 \Q±

CCLXXV. TO LEIGH HUNT [End of 1824) 166

CCLXXVI. TO THOMAS ALLSOP Jan. 7, 1825 1 6S

CCLXXVn. TO JOHN B. DIBDIN Jan. 11, 1825 16.Q

CCLXXVIII. TO MISS HUTCHINSON Jan. 20, 1825 \ 70

CCLXXIX. TO VINCENT NOVELLO Jan. 25, 1825 172

CCLXXX. TO BERNARD BARTON Feb. 10, 1825 173

CCLXXXI. TO THOMAS MANNING [Early in 1825) 175

CCLXXXII. TO BERNARD BARTON Mar. 23, 1825 175

ix



LETTERS OF CHARLES LAMB

LETTER DATE faoe

CCLXXXIII. TO WILLIAM WORDSWORTH April 6, 1825 177

CCLXXXIV. TO BERNARD BARTON April 6, 1825 180

CCLXXXV. TO MISS HUTCHINSON April 18, 1825 181

CCLXXXVI. TO WILLIAM WORDSWORTH [Middle of May 1825] 183

CCLXXXVH. TO BERNARD BARTON July 2, 1825 1 85

CCLXXXVIII. TO SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE July 2, 1825 1 86

CCLXXXIX. TO BERNARD BARTON Aug. 10, 1825 188

CCXC. TO ROBERT SOUTHEY Aug. 19, 1825 191

CCXCI. TO WILLIAM HONE Sept. SO, 1825 195

CCXCII. TO THOMAS MANNING Dec. 10, 1825 195

CCXCIII. TO CHARLES OLLIER [Jan. 1826] 196

CCXCIV. TO THE SAME Jan. 1826 197

CCXCV. TO BERNARD BARTON Feb. 7, 1826 197

CCXCVI. TO THE SAME Mar. 20, 1826 198

CCXCVII. TO SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE Mar. 22, 1826 201

CCXCVIII. TO THE REV. H. F. CARY April 3, 1826 202

CCXCIX. TO VINCENT NOVELLO May 9, 1826 203

CCC. TO BERNARD BARTON May 16, 1826 203

CCCI. TO SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE June 1, 1826 205

CCCII. TO J. B. DIBDIN June 1826 206

CCCIII. TO THE SAME July 14, 1826 210

CCCIV. TO WILLIAM HONK [July 25, 18*6] 212

X



CONTENTS



LETTER

CCCV. TO J. B. DIBDIN
CCCVI. TO BERNARD BARTON
CCCVII. TO THE SAME



DATE page

Sept. 9, 1826 214

Sept. 26, 1826 21 6

[End of 1826} 218



NOTES



32*



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS



PORTRAIT OF LEIGH HUNT

Photogravure

THIS DEAD WOOD OF THE DESK
From dravnng by K. Shibley Gbant



FRONTISPIECE



FACING PAGE
33



SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE



54



G. D. A -BED, AND RAVING
From drawing by K. Shirley Gbant



126



PORTRAIT OF BERNARD BARTON



140



CHAPTER IV

1817—1823

LETTERS TO THE WORDS WORTHS,

BERNARD BARTON, AND OTHERS



LETTER CLXXXIII

TO WILLIAM AYRTON, ESQ.



M



May 17, 1817.
Y dear friend,
Before I end,
Have you any
More orders for Don Giovanni,
To give
Him that doth live
Your faithful Zany?

Without raillery,

I mean Gallery

Ones:

For I am a person that shuns

All ostentation

And being at the top of the fashion ;

And seldom go to operas

But in forma pauperis !

I go to the play

In a very economical sort of a way,

Rather to see

Than be seen;

Though I'm no ill sight

Neither,

By candle-light

8



LETTERS OF CHARLES LAMB

And in some kinds of weather.

You might pit me

For height

Against Kean;

But in a grand tragic scene

I 'm nothing :

It would create a kind of loathing

To see me act Hamlet;

There 'd be many a damn let

Fly

At my presumption,

If I should try,

Being a fellow of no gumption.

By the way, tell me candidly how you relish

This, which they call

The lapidary style?

Opinions vary.

The late Mr. Mellish

Could never abide it;

He thought it vile,

And coxcombical.

My friend the poet laureat,

Who is a great lawyer at

Anything comical,

Was the first who tried it;

But Mellish could never abide it;

But it signifies very little what Mellish said,

Because he is dead.



TO AYRTON

For who can confute

A body that 's mute ?

Or who would fight

With a senseless sprite?

Or think of troubling

An inpenetrable old goblin,

That 's dead and gone,

And stiff as stone,

To convince him with arguments pro and con,

As if some live logician,

Bred up at Merton, —

Or Mr. Hazlitt, the metaphysician; —

Hey, Mr. Ayrton!

With all your rare tone.

For tell me how should an apparition

List to your call,

Though you talk'd for ever,

Ever so clever:

When his ear itself,

By which he must hear, or not hear at all,

Is laid on the shelf?

Or put the case

(For more grace),

It were a female spectre —

Now could you expect her

To take much gust

In long speeches,

With her tongue as dry as dust,

In a sandy place,

5



LETTERS OF CHARLES LAMB

Where no peaches,
Nor lemons, nor limes, nor oranges hang,
To drop on the drought of an arid harangue,
Or quench,
With their sweet drench,
The fiery pangs which the worms inflict,
With their endless nibblings,
Like quibblings,
Which the corpse may dislike, but can ne'er contra-
dict?
Hey, Mr. Ayrton !
With all your rare tone.

I am,

C. Lamb.

LETTER CLXXXIV

TO MR. BARRON FIELD

August 81, 1817.

MY dear Barron — The bearer of this letter
so far across the seas is Mr. Lawrey, who
comes out to you as a missionary, and whom I have
been strongly importuned to recommend to you as
a most worthy creature by Mr. Fenwick, a very old,
honest friend of mine ; of whom, if my memory does
not deceive me, you have had some knowledge here-
tofore as editor of the Statesman; a man of talent,
and patriotic. If you can show him any facilities in
his arduous undertaking, you will oblige us much.
Well, and how does the land of thieves use you?
6



TO FIELD

and how do you pass your time, in your extra-judi-
cial intervals ? Going about.the streets with a lantern,
like Diogenes, looking for an honest man ? You may
look long enough, I fancy. Do give me some notion
of the manners of the inhabitants where you are.
They don't thieve all day long, do they ? No human
property could stand such continuous battery. And
what do they do when they an't stealing?

Have you got a theatre? What pieces are per-
formed ? Shakspeare's, I suppose; not so much for the
poetry, as for his having once been in danger of leav-
ing his country on account of certain "small deer."

Have you poets among you ? Damn'd plagiarists,
I fancy, if you have any. I would not trust an idea,
or a pocket-handkerchief of mine, among 'em. You
are almost competent to answer Lord Bacon's prob-
lem, whether a nation of atheists can subsist to-
gether. You are practically in one: —

"So thievish 't is, that the eighth commandment itself
Scarce seemeth there to be."

Our old honest world goes on with little percep-
tible variation. Of course you have heard of poor
Mitchell's death, and that G. Dyer is one of Lord
Stanhope's residuaries. I am afraid he has not touched
much of the residue yet. He is positively as lean as
Cassius. Barnes is going to Demerara, or Essequibo.
I am not quite certain which. Alsager is turned actor.
He came out in genteel comedy at Cheltenham this
season, and has hopes of a London engagement.

7



LETTERS OF CHARLES LAMB

For my own history, I am just in the same spot,
doing the same thing (videlicet, little or nothing) as
when you left me ; only I have positive hopes that
I shall be able to conquer that inveterate habit of
smoking which you may remember I indulged in. I
think of making a beginning this evening, viz. Sun-
day, 31st Aug. 1817, not Wednesday, 2nd Feb. 1818,
as it will be perhaps when you read this for the first
time. There is the difficulty of writing from one end
of the globe (hemispheres, I call 'em) to another!
Why, half the truths I have sent you in this letter
will become lies before they reach you, and some of
the lies (which I have mixed for variety's sake, and
to exercise your judgment in the finding of them
out) may be turned into sad realities before you shall
be called upon to detect them. Such are the de-
fects of going by different chronologies. Your "now''
is not my "now"; and again, your "then" is not my
" then " ; but my " now " may be your " then," and vice
versa. Whose head is competent to these things ?

How does Mrs. Field get on in her geography?
Does she know where she is by this time ? I am not
sure sometimes you are not in another planet; but
then I don't like to ask Capt. Burney, or any of
those that know anything about it, for fear of ex-
posing my ignorance.

Our kindest remembrances, however, to Mrs. F.,
if she will accept of reminiscences from another
planet, or at least another hemisphere.

C. L.
8



MARY LAMB TO MISS WORDSWORTH
LETTER CLXXXV

MARY LAMB TO MISS WORDSWORTH

November %1, 1817.

MY dear Miss W t ordsworth — Your kind let-
ter has given us very great pleasure ; the sight
of your handwriting was a most welcome surprise to
us. We have heard good tidings of you by all our
friends who were so fortunate as to visit you this
Summer, and rejoice to see it confirmed by your-
self. You have quite the advantage, in volunteering
a letter ; there is no merit in replying to so welcome
a stranger.

We have left the Temple. I think you will be
sorry to hear this. I know I have never been so well
satisfied with thinking of you at Rydal Mount, as
when I could connect the idea of you with your
own Grasmere Cottage. Our rooms were dirty and
out of repair, and the inconveniences of living in
chambers became every year more irksome, and so,
at last, we mustered up resolution enough to leave
the good old place, that so long had sheltered us,
and here we are, living at a brazier's shop, No. 20,
in Russell Street, Covent Garden, a place all alive
with noise and bustle ; Drury Lane Theatre in sight
from our front, and Covent Garden from our back
windows. The hubbub of the carriages returning
from the play does not annoy me in the least;
strange that it does not, for it is quite tremendous.
I quite enjoy looking out of the window, and listen-

9



LETTERS OF CHARLES LAMB

ing to the calling up of the carriages, and the squab-
bles of the coachmen and linkboys. It is the oddest
scene to look down upon ; I am sure you would be
amused with it. It is well I am in a cheerful place,
or I should have many misgivings about leaving the
Temple. I look forward with great pleasure to the
prospect of seeing my good friend, Miss Hutchin-
son. I wish Rydal Mount, with all its inhabitants
enclosed, were to be transplanted with her, and to
remain stationary in the midst of Covent Garden.

I passed through the street lately where Mr. and
Mrs. Wordsworth lodged ; several fine new houses,
which were then just rising out of the ground, are
quite finished, and a noble entrance made that way
into Portland Place. I am very sorry for Mr. De
Quincey. What a blunder the poor man made when
he took up his dwelling among the mountains! I
long to see my friend Pypos. Coleridge is still at
Little Hampton with Mrs. Gillman ; he has been so
ill as to be confined to his room almost the whole
time he has been there.

Charles has had all his Hogarths bound in a book ;
they were sent home yesterday, and now that I have
them altogether, and perceive the advantage of peep-
ing close at them through my spectacles, I am rec-
onciled to the loss of them hanging round the room,
which has been a great mortification to me — in vain
I tried to console myself with looking at our new
chairs and carpets, for we have got new chairs, and
carpets covering all over our two sitting-rooms; I
10



MARY LAMB TO MISS WORDSWORTH

missed my old friends and could not be comforted
— then I would resolve to learn to look out of the
window, a habit I never could attain in my life, and
I have given it up as a thing quite impracticable —
yet when I was at Brighton, last Summer, the first
week I never took my eyes off from the sea, not even
to look in a book : I had not seen the sea for sixteen
years. Mrs. Morgan, who was with us, kept her lik-
ing, and continued her seat in the window till the
very last, while Charles and I played truants, and
wandered among the hills, which we magnified into
little mountains, and almost as good as Westmore-
land scenery : certainly we made discoveries of many
pleasant walks, which few of the Brighton visitors
have ever dreamed of — for, like as is the case in the
neighbourhood of London, after the first two or
three miles we were sure to find ourselves in a per-
fect solitude. I hope we shall meet before the walk-
ing faculties of either of us fail; you say you can
walk fifteen miles with ease; that is exactly my stint,
and more fatigues me ; four or five miles every third
or fourth day, keeping very quiet between, was all
Mrs. Morgan could accomplish.

God bless you and yours. Love to all and each one.

I am ever yours most affectionately,

M. Lamb.



11



LETTERS OF CHARLES LAMB

LETTER CLXXXVI

TO MISS WORDSWORTH

November 21, 1817.

DEAR Miss Wordsworth — Here we are, trans-
planted from our native soil. I thought we never
could have been torn up from the Temple. Indeed
it was an ugly wrench, but like a tooth, now 'tis out,
and I am easy. We never can strike root so deep in
any other ground. This, where we are, is a light bit
of gardener's mould, and if they take us up from it,
it will cost no blood and groans, like mandrakes
pulled up. We are in the individual spot I like best,
in all this great city. The theatres, with all their
noises. Covent Garden, dearer to me than any gar-
dens of Alcinous, where we are morally sure of the
earliest peas and 'sparagus. Bow Street, where the
thieves are examined, within a few yards of us. Mary
had not been here four-and-twenty hours before she
saw a thief. She sits at the window working; and
casually throwing out her eyes, she sees a concourse
of people coming this way, with a constable to con-
duct the solemnity. These little incidents agreeably
diversify a female life.

Mary has brought her part of this letter to an or-
thodox and loving conclusion, which is very well, for
I have no room for pansies and remembrances. What
a nice holyday I got on Wednesday by favour of a
princess dying! C. L.

12



TO COLLIER
LETTER CLXXXVII

TO J. PAYNE COLLIER

The Garden of England,

December 10, 1817.

DEAR J. P. C. — I know how zealously you feel
for our friend S. T. Coleridge ; and I know that
you and your family attended his lectures four or
five years ago. He is in bad health, and worse mind :
and unless something is done to lighten his mind he
will soon be reduced to his extremities; and even
these are not in the best condition. I am sure that
you will do for him what you can; but at present he
seems in a mood to do for himself. He projects a
new course, not of physic, nor of metaphysic, nor
a new course of life, but a new course of lectures
on Shakspeare and Poetry. There is no man better
qualified (always excepting number one); but I am
pre-engaged for a series of dissertations on India
and Indiapendence, to be completed, at the expense
of the Company, in I know not (yet) how many vol-
umes foolscap folio. I am busy getting up my Hin-
doo mythology ; and, for the purpose, I am once more
enduring Southey's curse. To be serious, Coleridge's
state and affairs make me so ; and there are particu-
lar reasons just now, and have been any time for the
last twenty years, why he should succeed. He will
do so with a little encouragement. I have not seen
him lately ; and he does not know that I am writing.
Yours (for Coleridge's sake) in haste, C. Lamb.

% 13



LETTERS OF CHARLES LAMB

LETTER CLXXXVIII

TO BENJAMIN ROBERT HAYDON

December 1817.

MY dear Haydon — I will come with pleasure
to 22, Lisson Grove, North, at Rosse's, half-
way up, right-hand side, if I can find it.

Yours, C. Lamb.

20, Russell Court,

Covent Garden, East.

Half-way up, next the corner,
Left-hand side.

LETTER CLXXXIX

TO MRS. WORDSWORTH

East India House,
February 18, 1818.

MY dear Mrs. Wordsworth — I have repeat-
edly taken pen in hand to answer your kind
letter. My sister should more properly have done it,
but she having failed, I consider myself answerable
for her debts. I am now trying to do it in the midst
of commercial noises, and with a quill which seems
more ready to glide into arithmetical figures and
names of gourds, cassia, cardamoms, aloes, ginger, or
tea, than into kindly responses and friendly recollec-
tions. The reason why I cannot write letters at home
is, that I am never alone. Plato's — (I write to W. W.
now) — Plato's double-animal parted never longed
14



TO MRS. WORDSWORTH

more to be reciprocally re-united in the system of
its first creation than I sometimes do to be but for a
moment single and separate. Except my morning's
walk to the office, which is like treading on sands of
gold for that reason, I am never so. I cannot walk
home from office but some officious friend offers
his unwelcome courtesies to accompany me. All the
morning I am pestered. I could sit and gravely cast
up sums in great books, or compare sum with sum,
and write "paid" against this, and "unpaid" against
t'other, and yet reserve in some corner of my mind
"some darling thoughts all my own," — faint mem-
ory of some passage in a book, or the tone of an ab-
sent friend's voice — a snatch of Miss Burrell's sing-
ing, or a gleam of Fanny Kelly's divine plain face.
The two operations might be going on at the same
time without thwarting, as the sun's two motions
(earth's, I mean), or as I sometimes turn round till
I am giddy, in my back parlour, while my sister is
walking longitudinally in the front ; or as the shoulder
of veal twists round with the spit, while the smoke
wreathes up the chimney. But there are a set of ama-
teurs of the Belles Lettres — the gay science — who
come to me as a sort of rendezvous, putting questions
of criticism, of British Institutions, Lalla Rookhs,
etc. — what Coleridge said at the lecture last night
— who have the form of reading men, but, for any
possible use reading can be to them, but to talk of,
might as well have been Ante-Cadmeans born, or
have lain sucking out the sense of an Egyptian hiero-

15



LETTERS OF CHATILES LAMB

glyph as long as the pyramids will last, before they
should find it. These pests worrit me at business, and
in all its intervals, perplexing my accounts, poison-
ing my little salutary warming-time at the fire, puz-
zling my paragraphs if I take a newspaper, cramming
in between my own free thoughts and a column of
figures, which had come to an amicable compromise
but for them. Their noise ended, one of them, as I
said, accompanies me home, lest I should be solitary
for a moment; he at length takes his welcome leave
at the door; up I go, mutton on table, hungry as
hunter, hope to forget my cares, and bury them in the
agreeable abstraction of mastication; knock at the
door, in comes Mr. Hazlitt, or Mr. Martin Burney, or
Morgan Demigorgon, or my brother, or somebody,
to prevent my eating alone — a process absolutely
necessary to my poor wretched digestion. O the plea-
sure of eating alone! — eating my dinner alone! let
me think of it. But in they come, and make it ab-
solutely necessary that I should open a bottle of
orange ; for my meat turns into stone when any one
dines with me, if I have not wine. Wine can mollify
stones; then that wine turns into acidity, acerbity,
misanthropy, a hatred of my interrupters— (God
bless 'em! I love some of 'em dearly), and with the
hatred, a still greater aversion to their going away.
Bad is the dead sea they bring upon me, choking
and deadening, but worse is the deader dry sand
they leave me on, if they go before bed-time. Come
never, I would say to these spoilers of my dinner;
16



TO MRS. WORDSWORTH

but if you come, never go ! The fact is, this interrup-
tion does not happen very often ; but every time it
comes by surprise, that present bane of my life, orange
wine, with all its dreary stifling consequences, fol-
lows. Evening company I should always like had I
any mornings, but I am saturated with human faces
(divine forsooth ') and voices all the golden morning;



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